You can bring drone batteries on a plane under some conditions. Each airline has its own rules depending on the drone’s batteries and the way to carry the device.
Concerning the drone batteries, we can travel with rechargeable cells that work for short periods. Larger sized batteries might be allowed on the plane, but there are some rules to follow. Let’s talk about the type of drone batteries and the rules that apply to them when traveling on a plane.
What to know About Drone Batteries
Some drone work with batteries made from Lithium-ion (Li-ion). Drone makers use this type of power source for the electric motors of their products. They have designed this energy source to have a setup that makes it contain a lot of energy in a small package.
On the other hand, some drones work with Lithium Polymer cells. These batteries do not weigh much and come in various forms. The LiPo cells are one of the most popular batteries used in drones because it allows the drone to work for more extended hours.
However, LiPo batteries also have its downsides. Even if it has some safeguards to prevent any issues, accidents could still occur due to physical damage or too much power flow. For these reasons, there are airline rules guiding the movement of drone batteries on a plane.
General Airline Rules for Traveling with Drone Battery
It might feel pretty difficult for people to read and understand the federal law related to drone cells. But no need to worry because we have done the hard work and helped out with the rules.
There are rules from FAA and TSA (Transportation Security Administration) guiding the movement of batteries on planes. These guidelines which were published in August 2017, have a strong basis in the laws of today, But these might change as time goes on. Here are the rules concerning the power of the batteries.
Rules for the Battery capacity
Most Airport officials do not allow cells with more than 100 watts hours on a plane. Thus passengers can travel with Lightweight Li-ion batteries of 100 watts hours or below. This rule also applies to drones cells.
Travelers can also place cells of 100 watt-hours in a checked bag so far the drones contain these batteries. Extra or spare batteries will not be allowed if placed in checked bags.
Larger and higher capacity drone batteries have a few more restrictions, but passengers may still take them on a plane with airline approval. Batteries installed in a drone are acceptable as well as up to two spare batteries in a carry-on.
The cells inside the drone can be rechecked with the consent of the airline staff. But passengers aren’t allowed to place spare batteries of this size into the checked baggage.
Other Important Airline Rules to know About Drone Batteries
Different Airlines have different rules. Under this section, we will discuss these rules and regulations that guide the movement of drone batteries on various airlines.
When it comes to lithium-ion cells, Delta airlines allow you to travel with a single battery of 160 watts hours in your carry on. But if the cell has a size of more than 160 hours, travelers will not be allowed to carry the unit on the plane.
If the lithium-ion battery stays in a personal electronic device, it can be moved, checked and placed in the baggage. At the same time, other cells not needed in the device should stay in a carry-on. But passengers can carry only two spare batteries that measure between 100 and 160 watt-hours.
Any product that has either lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries must be placed in a carry-on bag and not in a piece of checked baggage.
But if doing this becomes pretty tricky, intending passengers should switch off the device and make sure the switch faces the OFF print. Also, ensure that the product had protection from accidental damage and placed in a way that prevents general damage.
This airline has easy rules that govern travelers with drone battery. In an American airline flight, we can travel with any battery provided it has a size less than 160 watts hours.
However, this airline also has another set of rules guiding the movement of batteries. First, we must take out the cells from any electronic product including a drone. Next, the batteries should be placed in a carry-on bag or a separate plastic bag.
The airline also permits traveling with any amount of lithium-ion cells provided they measure less than 100 watt-hours. They also allow passengers to take along two extra batteries of 100-160 watt-hours in a carry-on bag. But if commuters want to bring a larger battery between 160 and 300 watt-hours, they will have to contact a Special Assistance representative.
Southwest airline also allows drones on board during an international trip. However, there are some rules to follow about the size of the cells in use. According to the guidelines released on January 15th, 2018, airline authorities can allow as much as 20 lithium-ion batteries on a single flight.
But, extra or loose batteries such as power banks, cells and batteries should have protection from excess damage. These items must come onto the plane in a carry-on bag.
If a drone battery measures more than 100 watt-hours, the airline allows commuters to take only two cells on the plane as long as they do not exceed 160 watt-hours. The airline does not permit batteries more than 160 watt-hours even if it is placed in a carry on or checked luggage.
With this airline company, commuters can travel with drones if placed in carry-on or checked baggage. During the flight, passengers can also take any two extra lithium-ion batteries between 100 and 160 watts as carry-ons. This is possible provided that the cells are covered with tape or placed in a plastic bag while in the terminal.
However, if the drone battery has a lower capacity less than 100 watt-hours, it is possible to take many along.
How to measure the watt-hours of a battery (if the label does not have the value)
Most drone makers provide details about the battery including its capacity. But if a cell does not have such information, commuters can calculate the watt-hours easily.
To determine the watt-hours of a battery, you need to multiply the volts (V) by the ampere-hours (Ah) — for example, a 12-volt battery at 9 ampere-hours measures at 108 watt-hours.
Since the labels on the drone’s batteries provide details about their milliamp hours ( mAh), you will need to divide the number by 1000 to get the Ah.
Other Related Restrictions
According to the FAA, individuals can take as much as much batteries as possible as long as they measure at 100-watt-hours. This is allowed as long as the drone and the cells will serve for work purposes.
However, batteries which intending travelers plan to sell or distribute do not fall under these restrictions. If the drones’ batteries exceed the 100-watt-hour mark, airport authorities can allow commuters to travel with three units: two spares and one in the drone.
Despite this, passengers should keep the extra batteries safe from damage in a carry-on. This means that the cells remain in the original box or held in a dedicated case or sleeve.
Travelers may also wrap a piece of gaffer’s tape over the metal strips on the extra batteries. This measure prevents the terminals from touching other items in the concerned luggage.
Can I take Drones on a plane?
You may want to ask if you could take your drone on a plane. Of course, you can, but there are some vital steps you need to take to prevent setbacks when traveling with the device on a plane.
Take it as A Carry-on item
It’s advised that you should take your drone in a carry-on item because there is a less chance of damage from improper handling by airport staff. Tossing of luggage is one of the ways that goods get damaged by airport staff.
However, travelers may check it in if the unit comes with a hard case. Also, ensure the case fits within the limits of the airline company.
Take Out Sharp Objects
Ensure that there are no sharp objects in the carry-on with the LiPo battery. These sharp objects include rotors, blades, screwdrivers, and scissors. All items of these kinds should be kept in check-in luggage.
Use LiPo safe bags
LiPo safe bags serve as ideal containers for batteries. These items protect both travelers and the cells from potential harm. You may place each battery in separate containers or multiple units with taped metal strips in a single bag depending on their sizes and amount.
Many would also like to take their drones along during a trip. Although there are limitations and guidelines to follow to avoid setbacks when traveling with drones on a plane, these rules ensure the safety of all passengers and crew during the flight. Most of these rules concern the batteries that power the drones. Depending on the size and number of the cells involved, we need to place them in a checked luggage or take it as a carry-on item. Travelers should also ensure to keep the drone cells save from damage and sharp items.